Eco-Republic: Ancient Thinking for a Green Age

Eco-Republic: Ancient Thinking for a Green Age


By (author) Melissa Lane

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  • Publisher: Peter Lang Ltd
  • Format: Hardback | 255 pages
  • Dimensions: 158mm x 234mm x 20mm | 621g
  • Publication date: 25 October 2011
  • Publication City/Country: Witney
  • ISBN 10: 1906165173
  • ISBN 13: 9781906165178
  • Sales rank: 1,288,505

Product description

Climate change and sustainability are the issues du jour, and they are not likely to go off the agenda any time soon. In this age of competing politics and policies, with limited resources and often limited will to make change, what can we learn from ancient wisdom and philosophy to humankind's benefit? Climate change and sustainability are not just technical problems or problems in applied ethics: they require a new political imagination, which this book illuminates. Professor Melissa Lane identifies key messages - on the role of the individual, the household, the nature of citizenship, and the significance of the imagination - which bring the wisdom of the past to bear on the challenges of the present. Using these resources, and building on these insights this book is a call to action from the past, to a present understanding of political thought and ethical wellbeing. Drawing on Plato's Republic as a model while also challenging aspects of Platonic politics, the book sets out the political and psychological challenges that we face in moving beyond the psycho-political settlement of modern commercial society.

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Author information

With an A.B. in Social Studies from Harvard, and an MPhil and PhD in Philosophy from Cambridge, Professor Lane's work has focused on the history of political thought and political philosophy. She is now Professor of Politics at Princeton University after having taught for many years at the University of Cambridge. Her research and publication in political philosophy on the work of Plato and its modern reception is internationally recognised: she has taught Plato in China, addressed scholars in Japan, and published several articles in French translation, among other contributions. She wrote the Introduction to the latest Penguin Classics edition of Plato's Republic (2007) in addition to two books of scholarship on Platonic thought and its modern reception for Duckworth (Plato's Progeny, 2001) and Cambridge University Press (Method and Politics in Plato's Statesman, 1998). In 2010 the prestigious Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy published her entry on 'Ancient Political Philosophy'. Current projects include The Rule of Knowledge: Platonic Ethics, Politics, and Psychology (manuscript in progress).

Review quote

To deploy Plato may seem one of the more desperate strategies for saving the planet. Classical Athens had no inkling of environmental catastrophe, and Plato hated democracy. But Melissa Lane succeeds wonderfully not only in separating the useful in Plato from the useless, but also in demonstrating that the useful contains a surprising amount of what we need if we are to survive. [She] emphasises the importance to us all of 'legacy'. Do we want our epitaph to be that we did nothing? The point applies with particular force, I suggest, to those engaged in what some regard as ingenious irrelevance, the humanities. Lane demonstrates that the humanities, so far from being negligible, can play a vital role in averting environmental catastrophe. (Richard Seaford, Times Literary Supplemen 05/2012)

Flap copy

"Climate change is a modern problem caused by technology that the ancients could not have fathomed. But can classical Greek ideas teach us anything about how to fix our flawed approach to the environment? Lane masterfully draws on Plato's dialogues to help us rethink the politics and social ethos that have endangered our natural world. The result is a major accomplishment that is at once rigorous, engaging, and relevant."--Corey Brettschneider, author of "Democratic Rights: The Substance of Self-Government""Melissa Lane has produced a fascinating and mind-stretching argument for change. Become more sustainable, she argues, not because you ought to, but because it makes you glorious. Eco-Republic is refreshing and exciting"--Matt Arnold, leader of Sustainable Business Solutions, PricewaterhouseCoopers""Eco-Republic" seeks to refashion the political imagination toward a more environmentally sustainable way of life. Lane draws on ancient thought, and on Plato in particular, to make imaginable the sort of political subjectivity that she sees as necessary to developing sustainable lifestyles and a concomitant politics. This focus on our collective imagination is a significant reorientation of political theory itself."--Danielle S. Allen, Institute for Advanced Study"This is a timely book that I am sure will make an impact in both scholarly and popular circles. It argues that ethics and virtue are increasingly important reference points in the battle for sustainability. The author is commendably optimistic about the potential for an 'eco-republic.'"--Andrew Dobson, author of "Green Political Thought""This is a provocative and powerful book. Lane recommends the ethical vision of Greek antiquity rather than a society of individuals following legal rules. Such a vision is, Lane argues, a sustainable one--bringing ethics, ecology, and politics together."--Justin Champion, Royal Holloway, University of London

Table of contents

Contents: Inertia as Failure of the Political Imagination - From Greed to Glory: Ancient to Modern Ethics - and Back Again? - Underpinning Inertia: The Idea of Negligibility - Meet Plato's Republic - The City and the Soul - The Idea of the Good - Initiative and Individuals: A (Partly) Platonic Political Project.